Marketing is a big job. It’s complicated, takes a lot of time, effort, and coordination, and in order to do it well, you’ll need help. Wouldn’t it be nice to be surrounded by a group of people who appreciate what you do and who are not only willing but are happy to help you do your job?! The people that you work with can be your biggest supporters, allies, and sources of inspiration. But first, you have to build strong, trusting relationships with them. Internal relationship building skills are vital to any marketer.
Luckily, relationship building can be easy if you apply the following techniques. You can start building those relationships today and get the help, support, and buy-in from people you work with!
Here’s how to stop struggling and how to build strong internal relationships:
Get out of your desk – this should be pretty obvious but it’s surprising how often people forget to do it. You can’t make many friends if you’re always sitting at your desk, in the same corner of the office, talking to the same one or two people who sit near you. You need to schedule time to get up, go walk around to other departments, and learn about the people you work with!
Say hello – actually take a moment to pause, make eye contact, and genuinely greet the person. People want to feel important and be seen by others.
Share interesting information related to work or personal interests – share news related to your industry, find out the interests of others and look for interesting articles related to their interests, find shared interests and do the same – people like to learn things! They especially like to learn things that are interesting to them and that can help them or that they can take and also share with others.
Ask about your coworkers – ask questions about their lives, the work they do for the organization, why they enjoy doing those things, and the aspirations they have. Pay attention to what they say and follow up when information is shared with you. If they say they are going to take a hike during the weekend, ask how it went when you see them next. People can tell when you ask about them only because you really want to talk about yourself, so be sure to just ask and listen. Don’t talk about yourself unless it is related to what they are saying or if they ask directly. Be genuine.
Decorate your office as a reflection of who you are. This will help others get to know you. It’s easy to walk into a room, look around, and find something interesting. It’s a form of nonverbal communication that sends messages and signals to others for connection. If your office is nonpersonal or doesn’t reflect you, it makes it that much more difficult for others to connect with you.
Pay attention to communication styles – this is incredibly important. There are many different communication styles that people have. Some are introverted, some prefer email or chat to in person, some are huggers… pay close attention to tone of voice in person and in email. Are they short? Are they direct? Do they ask how your day is going or wish you well before they get to the point of a work email? Learn the different communication styles and adjust the way you communicate to each individual. There are four different basic types of communication styles: analytical, functional, intuitive, and personal. For more in-depth information about them, you can check out this article from Forbes Which of These Four Communication Styles Are You.
Dress appropriately – what you wear sends a message. Make sure it’s the one you intend to send. Whether we like to admit it or not, people inherently make unconscious (or conscious) judgements about you based on your appearance. Look at your coworkers and try to match their style to some degree. It shows that you fit in or belong. You are in control of your appearance and when you realize that other people make decisions about you based on it, you are empowered to influence their decisions. Decide how you want others to see you. If you want to stand out and be different, then go for it! But just know what you’re communicating and don’t be surprised with the results.
Contribute at meetings. Be involved and invested! Don’t sit there idling on your phone or computer. Give feedback and respectfully speak up. Constructive criticism is generally best received in a private setting and conversation. Don’t call people out unnecessarily in front of a group of people. Address issues privately and with tact. Don’t speak poorly of your coworkers to other coworkers. (That’s what your personal friends or your private journal are for.) But, do be sure to give constructive criticism or advice when it’s called for – people appreciate honesty when it’s coming from a sincere and helpful place. Don’t talk about coworkers behind their backs.
Send actual thank you notes – small physical cards are so rare these days that it’s a sure way to stand out and be memorable. Buy or make a small pack of thank you notes that you can keep in your office drawer and hand out when you notice someone has gone out of their way to help you (or even to help someone else). Look for opportunities for appreciation. Again, people want to be noticed.
Be open to “interruption” – change your mindset from “interruption” to opportunity for connection. I know it can be frustrating to get pulled away from something you are working on but these are chances for you to connect with and be helpful to others. Take advantage of them!
Invite people on walks, out to lunch, or to after-work activities. Fresh air during the day makes a big difference on mood. Vitamin D helps to improve mood and walking around helps to increase blood flow, which can lead to improved mood and creativity! Why not ask your coworkers to join you – it will help you both feel better and as an added benefit, the improved mood due to doing something enjoyable will likely be carried over to doing something with you that’s enjoyable. Our brains love to make associations so when you do fun things together, you think that the person you’re with is fun too.
Bring in food or crafts – whatever you enjoy doing in your free time, bring it in and share it with others. I love to bake so I’d often make cookies, cupcakes, or other shareable baked goods to share my passion with those around me. It shows who you are and that you care enough about the people you spend 40+ hours a week with that you want them to enjoy things too.
Create a bulletin board in a common space with information about nearby events and events you are helping to coordinate. Allow others to post on it too. Some people don’t read emails – it’s important to incorporate multiple means of communication in order to connect with as many people as possible.
Create an internal newsletter/email/open web chat – depending on the size of your organization, chances are that people don’t always know all the things you’re working on or that other departments are working on. Take the time to put together a short email or newsletter that covers updates, events, anniversaries, and the latest news in your industry that people would probably care about and send it to your coworkers. They’ll appreciate being informed! You can also use an internal chat service like Slack to have an open and common chat that everyone can tune into and contribute to that functions in the same way.
Most importantly…GIVE! Give your time, energy, and assistance to others whenever you can (without compromising your core responsibilities) and do so without the expectation of them doing the same. When you are helpful and give to others, they will most likely do the same for you. When someone asks for your help, help them! If you can’t, avoid saying “that’s not my job.” Instead, if you truly can’t help them, explain that you’d love to but unfortunately have other projects but recommend someone else they could turn to or let them know that once you finish a current project, you’d be able to help them. When you become the solution resource for others and make their lives easier, you become invaluable.
Internal relationship building is an investment. It takes time, energy, and effort. But it is one worth making. You can’t do marketing entirely alone. You need your coworkers. When you make the investment to build authentic, trusting relationships, you’ll find you suddenly have an army of co-marketing-conspirators ready to help you with photos, promotion and event ideas, guest blog posts, extra hands for events, people who are open to being interviewed, and (quite importantly) who will help connect you with their network of friends and contacts in the community who can also help you!
What’s your passion? What do you enjoy doing and find fulfillment in? Share it with me in the comments! I’d love to know more about your interests.